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Yes, the US women's soccer team is dominant. That's because most of the world is playing catch-up

You're forgiven if you thought that was an American football scoreline. 

But no - that is really how badly the defending World Cup champion US Women's National Team thrashed Thailand in their opening match of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

While some took issue with the team's celebrations as their lead reached double digits, it was just the latest ruthless display from the US women on soccer's biggest stage -- one they have ruled for most of the past 30 years.

Since 1991, there have been seven Women's World Cups. The US has won three of them, and are the favorites to win their fourth this year in France. 

They have never finished worse than third at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the US men are currently 30th in FIFA's world rankings, while the women are the best in the world, and have never been worse than second in the history of the FIFA women's rankings.

And the US Men's National Team failed to even qualify for the last World Cup, despite making more money than the women

So how did the US women become a soccer powerhouse, while the men still seem a long way from realistically competing for a World Cup title? 

The answer is complicated, and in some ways, the growth of women's soccer is a microcosm of the fight for gender equality.

The Title IX effect

The success of US women's soccer can't solely be attributed to Title IX. 

But there's little question that the law sparked huge growth in women's athletics, at a time when many countries were either not investing in women's sports, or, in some places, were actively quashing them.

The law prohibited any educational institution receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex, which includes athletics. 

In 1971, the year before Title IX became law, there were only 700 girls participating in high school soccer programs, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

"You have to imagine a time when there were just essentially no team sports for girls," said Karen Blumenthal, author of the book "Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America." "From my perspective as someone who was a teenager in the '70s ... this was just a huge change in the world."

Though the law was signed in 1972, it still took years for many schools and universities to fully comply, Blumenthal says. But as more did, this spurred athletics participation among women and girls, as more and more high schools and colleges added soccer programs. 

For women's soccer in particular, this triggered explosive growth.

Read entire article at CNN